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A counter with a chalkboard menu and sign that reads Clam Bar.
The clam bar at Paul’s Daughter in Coney Island is a great place for raw clams.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

18 Reasons to Order Clams

And where to get them

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The clam bar at Paul’s Daughter in Coney Island is a great place for raw clams.
| Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

For decades, New Yorkers have had a special relationship with clams. Local Native Americans were cooking them in fire pits and using the shells for wampum even before the Dutch and English arrived. Sicilian and southern Italian immigrants stuffed them and baked them, and incorporated clams into pastas. New Englanders made chowders said to be originated by Bretons, while Bostonians claim to have invented the fried clam — though the idea of frying seafood could also have come from New Orleans, with its mixed African, Spanish, and French heritage.

Chinese and other Asian immigrants have contributed their recipes, too, making today the best time ever to eat clams here — whether they be little necks or other quahogs (derived from a Native American word that means “horse fish”), razor clams, soft-shells, or Manila clams. Here are some clam dishes that we love, especially at the end of the summer.

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Clams Casino Pizza at Modern Apizza

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Sure you can find a good clam pie at any of New Haven’s famous pizzerias, but Modern’s more opulent clam pizza is inspired by the famous appetizer clams casino. It features minced bivalves on a charred, coal-oven crust, with red peppers and bacon: a winning combination of smoke and brine if ever there were one. The place was founded in 1934, so maybe it’s not so modern after all.

An uneven round circle dappled with black around the circumference.
Clams casino pizza at Modern Apizza.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Steamers at Clam Bar

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As you reach the final narrow neck of land in Napeague, Long Island that leads to Montauk, two generic places loom on the horizon, the first hawking lobster rolls, the next hoisting a sign that simply reads, Clam Bar. The fried clams are great, but even better are the steamed siphon clams served with drawn butter, a participatory meal that can leave an entire carload of sojourners delighted.

A vast expanse of clam shells glinting in the sunlight.
A bucket of steamers at Clam Bar is just the thing before hitting Montauk.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Manhattan Clam Chowder at Grand Central Oyster Bar

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Yes, the moniker of this classic restaurant suggests it devotes all its attention to oysters. But there are just as many clam delights on the menu, from raw clams to a pair of chowders available at the snaking lunch counter and in the formal dining room. This being a Yankee seafood place, you may be tempted to order the mild New England clam chowder, but the zesty and peppery Manhattan clam chowder, which may be Sicilian in origin, is better. Note the restaurant is currently closed Saturdays and Sundays.

A spoon holds up a bite of red soup in a white bowl.
A bowl of red, Grand Central Oyster Bar style.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ameijoas at Ipanema

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For clams with an Iberian twist, check out the dish called simply ameijoas at recently transplanted Portuguese-Brazilian restaurant Ipanema. Delicate Manila clams in their shells perambulate the bowl of broth already flavored with chorizo and megatons of garlic — the bivalves add a welcome bitterness, and you could throw away everything else and still be satisfied with the broth.

An indentation with small clams and yellowish broth with a browned toast resting on the side.
Ameijoas at Ipanema.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Giant Clam at Mel's

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When it opened earlier this year behind Chelsea Market, nuevo pizzeria Mel’s caused a sensation with its giant clam appetizer. A behemoth shell holds a stuffing that includes minced clams and shrimp, breadcrumbs, and oregano, and garlic, making a gutbomb of what appears to be a single bivalve.

A tiny lemon wedge shows by comparison how big this stuffed clam shell is.
How many bites will it take to finished this baked clam?
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Fideos With Chorizo, Clams, and a Garlic Sherry Aioli at Casa Mono

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This fundamentally great Spanish restaurant, an updated facsimile of an actual restaurant in Spain, always has shellfish on its shifting menu. Keep an eye out for razor clams a la plancha, which are only seasonally available, but in their absence don’t miss the fideos — angel hair noodles browned to a crisp, mainly concealing a bed of a dozen or so in-shell Manila clams and chorizo.

Very skinny brown noodles on top with small shellfish shells sticking out around the edges underneath.
Lots of clams under this mass of fideos at Casa Mono.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Clams Casino at Gene's

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The origin of clams casino is disputed, with both New York City (1917) and Narragansett, Rhode Island (1894) claiming to have invented them. The dish consists of baked clams on the half shell — stuffed with bacon, green or red peppers, and breadcrumbs — though the latter ingredient was added under the influence of the Italian dish clams oreganata. Either way, bivalves treated this way are delicious, and Village veteran Gene’s is one of the few places in town that still serves them.

A half dozen clams in yellow broth, the clams heaped with bacon and green peppers.
Clams casino modifies the strong taste of clams with bacon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Any Clam Dish at The Clam

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For the true clam lover, few places are as good as the West Village restaurant known only as the Clam. The menu usually flaunts several clam recipes, often including raw littlenecks on the half shell, clam chowder, spaghetti with red clam sauce, clam pizza, clams in chowder sauce, and clams stuffed with pancetta. Likewise, there’s a near-legendary clam dip, served with homemade potato chips.

Four clams in their shells in a white sauce.
Clams in chowder sauce at The Clam.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Baked Topneck Clams at Manero's of Mulberry

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This surprising entry into the hubbub of Little Italy actually whips up great pizzas, and serves as a gathering place for hipoisie that happen to be in the neighborhood. More important for our purposes are the larger than usual stuffies (baked topneck clams) with an herby breadcrumb filling — exactly what you’d hoped for. Topnecks are a bit larger than littlenecks, making them a better deal but chewier than their smaller brethren.

A half dozen baked clams with a bread crumb stuffing spilling out.
Manero’s ample baked clams.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Clams Oreganata at Bamonte's

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In southern Italy, and now in Italian American cuisine, few dishes are as prized as clams oreganata — delicate littlenecks heaped with breadcrumbs flavored with oregano and garlic. The clams are sometimes minced for easier eating before returning to the shell, so make sure there’s plenty of bread at the ready to sop up the juices, which are the best part of this dish.

A dozen small clams in their shells heaped with breadcrumbs with lots of broth in the bottom of the plate.
Clams oreganata at Bamonte’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Long Island Clam Chowder at Chowder Bar

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By the dock where ferries depart for Fire Island, Chowder Bar is a cozy seafood tavern open all year. This is in the middle of clam country near where the creatures are pulled from the weeds with tongs, but the glories of the place are its chowders. New England and Manhattan head the list, but there’s also a version called Long Island clam chowder, which is actually a mixture of the other two chowders.

For cups of soup in square formation in colors ranging from cream to deep red.
From top left clockwise: New England, Manhattan, and Long Island clam chowder; clam bisque at Chowder Bar.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Clams in Black Bean Sauce at Wu's Wonton King

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You can get local clams in black bean sauce at nearly any old-guard Cantonese in town, but one of the best and most voluminous versions is found at Lower East Side favorite Wu’s Wonton King. The fermented black beans exert their influence, of course, but as a showcase for the bitter and briny taste of cherrystones, this recipe is unparalleled.

A jumble of clams in a bowl with chopped scallions and tiny black beans here and there.
Clams in black bean sauce at Wu’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ipswich Clams at Bigelow's

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Long Island is littered with fabled restaurants specializing in clams. Some of these places are seasonal, but others are year-round. Founded in 1939, Bigelow’s is one of the latter, serving lots of clam specialties in the New England style, including full-belly fried clams. The Ipswich clams are cooked to a golden brown perfection, offered with coleslaw and lemon wedges.

A heap of nicely browned fried clams.
Ipswich clams at Bigelow’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Raw Clams at Peter's Clam Bar

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While nearby Bigelow’s serves New England-style fried clams, Peter’s Clam Bar — founded in 1940 — is the local favorite. From its decks and expansive dining rooms, one can sometimes see clammers in their hip waders tonging their way through the offshore grasses, though most of the shellfish now come from further east on Long Island. Yes, there are chowders, steamers, stuffies, linguine and clam sauce, and clambakes, but perhaps best of all are the raw clams on the half shell, spectacularly fresh.

A glowing two story restaurant structure at sunset.
Peter’s Clam Bar gets crowded around sunset in the summer.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

New England Clam Chowder at Nick's Lobster House

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You might as well be in Maine the moment you step into Nick’s Lobster House, near the terminus of Flatbush Avenue on Mill Basin, with views of houses on stilts across the water from the outdoor deck. The New England clam chowder is damn near perfect — not too thick or thin — and plenty of minced chowder clams fight with potato cubes in the roiling, off-white expanse.

A spoon holds up a full measure of cream-colored chowder over the bowl.
Creamy, creamy clam chowder at Nick’s
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Clam Pie at Lee's Tavern

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Right by the Dongan Hills station on the Staten Island Railway, Lee’s Tavern, founded in 1940, is a cozy, wood-lined refuge. It’s also the principal proponent of the borough’s bar pie style, with pizzas that come in two sizes, featuring a crust firm enough that you can hold a slice with one hand while drinking a beer with the other. Available in red or white, the clam pie is perhaps the best at using that shellfish in the borough, though Denino’s gives it a run for its money.

A round pizza with small gnarly clams planted into a white sauce.
Clam pie at Lee’s Tavern.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Raw Clams at Paul's Daughter

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This boardwalk institution has regaled Coney Island with corn dogs, soft serve ice cream, as well as raw and fried clams for 60 years. The raw clam service, a Coney Island tradition, is especially good, featuring a half-dozen, freshly-opened hard-shell clams on the half shell served with a lemon wedge — not exactly what you’d expect from a place specializing in fried foods. Paul’s is open six months of the year, up until mid-autumn; if closed, traipse on over to Nathan’s Famous, which also offers raw clams.

Raw seafood poised on its shells seen from above.
Raw littlenecks at Paul’s Daughter, where you can eat them with briny offshore winds in your nostrils.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Steamed Clams at Moby’s Lobster Deck

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Standing at the foot of the bridge that leads to Sandy Hook and the Jersey Shore beyond, Moby’s (and its nearby sibling Bahr’s Landing) is a restaurant and marina, with this less formal dockside eatery that’s open during the season (which ends sometime in October). Both restaurants offer steamers — softshell clams steamed in their shells (and, in this case, in a net), presented with clam broth and drawn butter for your dipping pleasure. The flavor is sweet, chewy, and ultra-briny.

A hand with a silver ring on one finger opens up a clam shell.
Steamer clams at Bahr’s or Moby’s provide tactile as well as culinary pleasure.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Clams Casino Pizza at Modern Apizza

An uneven round circle dappled with black around the circumference.
Clams casino pizza at Modern Apizza.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Sure you can find a good clam pie at any of New Haven’s famous pizzerias, but Modern’s more opulent clam pizza is inspired by the famous appetizer clams casino. It features minced bivalves on a charred, coal-oven crust, with red peppers and bacon: a winning combination of smoke and brine if ever there were one. The place was founded in 1934, so maybe it’s not so modern after all.

An uneven round circle dappled with black around the circumference.
Clams casino pizza at Modern Apizza.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Steamers at Clam Bar

A vast expanse of clam shells glinting in the sunlight.
A bucket of steamers at Clam Bar is just the thing before hitting Montauk.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

As you reach the final narrow neck of land in Napeague, Long Island that leads to Montauk, two generic places loom on the horizon, the first hawking lobster rolls, the next hoisting a sign that simply reads, Clam Bar. The fried clams are great, but even better are the steamed siphon clams served with drawn butter, a participatory meal that can leave an entire carload of sojourners delighted.

A vast expanse of clam shells glinting in the sunlight.
A bucket of steamers at Clam Bar is just the thing before hitting Montauk.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Manhattan Clam Chowder at Grand Central Oyster Bar

A spoon holds up a bite of red soup in a white bowl.
A bowl of red, Grand Central Oyster Bar style.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Yes, the moniker of this classic restaurant suggests it devotes all its attention to oysters. But there are just as many clam delights on the menu, from raw clams to a pair of chowders available at the snaking lunch counter and in the formal dining room. This being a Yankee seafood place, you may be tempted to order the mild New England clam chowder, but the zesty and peppery Manhattan clam chowder, which may be Sicilian in origin, is better. Note the restaurant is currently closed Saturdays and Sundays.

A spoon holds up a bite of red soup in a white bowl.
A bowl of red, Grand Central Oyster Bar style.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ameijoas at Ipanema

An indentation with small clams and yellowish broth with a browned toast resting on the side.
Ameijoas at Ipanema.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

For clams with an Iberian twist, check out the dish called simply ameijoas at recently transplanted Portuguese-Brazilian restaurant Ipanema. Delicate Manila clams in their shells perambulate the bowl of broth already flavored with chorizo and megatons of garlic — the bivalves add a welcome bitterness, and you could throw away everything else and still be satisfied with the broth.

An indentation with small clams and yellowish broth with a browned toast resting on the side.
Ameijoas at Ipanema.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Giant Clam at Mel's

A tiny lemon wedge shows by comparison how big this stuffed clam shell is.
How many bites will it take to finished this baked clam?
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

When it opened earlier this year behind Chelsea Market, nuevo pizzeria Mel’s caused a sensation with its giant clam appetizer. A behemoth shell holds a stuffing that includes minced clams and shrimp, breadcrumbs, and oregano, and garlic, making a gutbomb of what appears to be a single bivalve.

A tiny lemon wedge shows by comparison how big this stuffed clam shell is.
How many bites will it take to finished this baked clam?
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Fideos With Chorizo, Clams, and a Garlic Sherry Aioli at Casa Mono

Very skinny brown noodles on top with small shellfish shells sticking out around the edges underneath.
Lots of clams under this mass of fideos at Casa Mono.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This fundamentally great Spanish restaurant, an updated facsimile of an actual restaurant in Spain, always has shellfish on its shifting menu. Keep an eye out for razor clams a la plancha, which are only seasonally available, but in their absence don’t miss the fideos — angel hair noodles browned to a crisp, mainly concealing a bed of a dozen or so in-shell Manila clams and chorizo.

Very skinny brown noodles on top with small shellfish shells sticking out around the edges underneath.
Lots of clams under this mass of fideos at Casa Mono.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Clams Casino at Gene's

A half dozen clams in yellow broth, the clams heaped with bacon and green peppers.
Clams casino modifies the strong taste of clams with bacon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

The origin of clams casino is disputed, with both New York City (1917) and Narragansett, Rhode Island (1894) claiming to have invented them. The dish consists of baked clams on the half shell — stuffed with bacon, green or red peppers, and breadcrumbs — though the latter ingredient was added under the influence of the Italian dish clams oreganata. Either way, bivalves treated this way are delicious, and Village veteran Gene’s is one of the few places in town that still serves them.

A half dozen clams in yellow broth, the clams heaped with bacon and green peppers.
Clams casino modifies the strong taste of clams with bacon.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Any Clam Dish at The Clam

Four clams in their shells in a white sauce.
Clams in chowder sauce at The Clam.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

For the true clam lover, few places are as good as the West Village restaurant known only as the Clam. The menu usually flaunts several clam recipes, often including raw littlenecks on the half shell, clam chowder, spaghetti with red clam sauce, clam pizza, clams in chowder sauce, and clams stuffed with pancetta. Likewise, there’s a near-legendary clam dip, served with homemade potato chips.

Four clams in their shells in a white sauce.
Clams in chowder sauce at The Clam.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Baked Topneck Clams at Manero's of Mulberry

A half dozen baked clams with a bread crumb stuffing spilling out.
Manero’s ample baked clams.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

This surprising entry into the hubbub of Little Italy actually whips up great pizzas, and serves as a gathering place for hipoisie that happen to be in the neighborhood. More important for our purposes are the larger than usual stuffies (baked topneck clams) with an herby breadcrumb filling — exactly what you’d hoped for. Topnecks are a bit larger than littlenecks, making them a better deal but chewier than their smaller brethren.

A half dozen baked clams with a bread crumb stuffing spilling out.
Manero’s ample baked clams.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Clams Oreganata at Bamonte's

A dozen small clams in their shells heaped with breadcrumbs with lots of broth in the bottom of the plate.
Clams oreganata at Bamonte’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

In southern Italy, and now in Italian American cuisine, few dishes are as prized as clams oreganata — delicate littlenecks heaped with breadcrumbs flavored with oregano and garlic. The clams are sometimes minced for easier eating before returning to the shell, so make sure there’s plenty of bread at the ready to sop up the juices, which are the best part of this dish.

A dozen small clams in their shells heaped with breadcrumbs with lots of broth in the bottom of the plate.
Clams oreganata at Bamonte’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Long Island Clam Chowder at Chowder Bar

For cups of soup in square formation in colors ranging from cream to deep red.
From top left clockwise: New England, Manhattan, and Long Island clam chowder; clam bisque at Chowder Bar.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

By the dock where ferries depart for Fire Island, Chowder Bar is a cozy seafood tavern open all year. This is in the middle of clam country near where the creatures are pulled from the weeds with tongs, but the glories of the place are its chowders. New England and Manhattan head the list, but there’s also a version called Long Island clam chowder, which is actually a mixture of the other two chowders.

For cups of soup in square formation in colors ranging from cream to deep red.
From top left clockwise: New England, Manhattan, and Long Island clam chowder; clam bisque at Chowder Bar.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Clams in Black Bean Sauce at Wu's Wonton King

A jumble of clams in a bowl with chopped scallions and tiny black beans here and there.
Clams in black bean sauce at Wu’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

You can get local clams in black bean sauce at nearly any old-guard Cantonese in town, but one of the best and most voluminous versions is found at Lower East Side favorite Wu’s Wonton King. The fermented black beans exert their influence, of course, but as a showcase for the bitter and briny taste of cherrystones, this recipe is unparalleled.

A jumble of clams in a bowl with chopped scallions and tiny black beans here and there.
Clams in black bean sauce at Wu’s.
Robert Sietsema/Eater NY

Ipswich Clams at Bigelow's